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Court to rule: Was structure home or boat?

RIVIERA BEACH, Fla., May 19 (UPI) -- A federal circuit court said it will decide if a Florida man's destroyed home was a floating residence or a boat -- a decision with broad tax implications.

The 11th Circuit appellate court in Atlanta heard oral arguments Wednesday concerning the 2009 confiscation of a structure the City of Riviera Beach, Fla., says was a vessel or a boat, rather than a floating residence, The Miami Herald reported.

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Fane Lozman, 49, of Riviera Beach, who says the structure was a floating residence, owned the two-story building valued at approximately $35,000. Lozman maintains the city evicted his structure from a marina in 2009 on grounds it was illegally docked.

Lozman said the eviction was retaliation for his successful challenge of the city's attempt in 2007 to build on a public marina site -- a matter unrelated to the current litigation.

After a federal court issued a summary judgment against Lozman, the city bought the structure for less than $10,000 at a city auction and had it destroyed.

If the appellate court upholds Riviera Beach's win over Lozman, floating residence owners nationwide might be able to argue they should no longer pay property taxes if their structures are to be considered vessels.

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